Plato And Aristotle

.. Greeks of Athens, Sparta, and Thebes. Aristotles father was a physician to the royal court, which allowed him to go up in the upper class. When he was 17, he went to Athens to study at Plato’s Academy. He stayed for about 20 years, as a student and then as a teacher. When Plato died, Aristotle moved to Assos, a city in Asia Minor, where a friend of his, Hermias was the ruler.

He guided Hermias and eventually married his niece and adopted a daughter, Pythias. Hermias was later captured and executed by the Persians. Aristotle then went to Pella, Macedonia’s capital, and became the tutor to the young Alexander the Great. Aristotle eventually went back to Athens and established his own school, the Lyceum. After the death of Alexander the Great there was a great feeling of anti-Macedonian in Athens, so Aristotle and his family went to a family estate in Euboea. A year later in 324 BC Aristotle died. Aristotle is responsible for some of the world’s most important philosophical writings.

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He is the author of several books about the sciences, mostly metaphysics and meteorology. According To Aristotle, virtue can be divided into two categories: intellectual and moral. They are called virtue of thought and virtue of character. Intellectual virtues are acquired through learning and instructions and needs time and experience. This includes scientific knowledge, practical wisdom, philosophical wisdom, and good judgment. Virtue of character or moral virtue is developed by force of habit. This type of virtue obeys reason and the control of impulses. Moral virtues are not naturally implanted in us rather the soul receives these moral virtues and in order to develop them into guiding forces they must be trained by habit.

For example, the soul achieves moral virtues by exercising, like a builder becomes who he is by building or a harpists becomes who she is by playing the harp (Nicomachean Ethics, Book II 1103b). Aristotle believed that all virtues learned, each has a specific excess and deficiency. The virtue is the midpoint of the excess and deficiency. Virtue, then, is a state that decides, consisting in a mean (Nicomachean Ethics, Book II 1107a). The virtue can be thought of the middle ground, the extremities can be labeled as vices and the contrast is labeled as vice of deficiency.

Take for example virtue of courage, the vice of excess would be rashness, and vice of deficiency would be cowardice. Aristotle believed that the virtue and the vices are within our control and of the two extremes we should choose the less erroneous. Aristotle continues by discussing virtuous person. A virtuous person will react moderately to both pleasure and pain. Pleasure causes humans to do actions, while pain keeps us from doing actions. Thus, virtue involves maintaining a balance between both pleasure and pain. A virtuous act must be based on rationality and only acted on after careful deliberation by the individual. Knowing the good is not enough and performing one single good act does not make one virtuous. Therefore, in order to be fully virtuous you must be fully aware of what you are doing and why you are doing this. If virtuous acts are done without any awareness of their value, you are unable to strengthen any habits.

Aristotle says that a person comes to be just from doing just actions and temperate from doing temperate action (Nicomachean Ethics, Book II). According to Aristotle there are two different aspects of the soul: the irrational and the rational. The irrational element is shared with the animal, and a rational element is distinctly only in human. The primary irrational element is the vegetative or nutritive psyche, which is responsible for nutrition growth and propagation. An organism that does this perfectly may be said to have a nutritional virtue. The second tier of the soul is the animal or sensible psyche, which is responsible for our emotions and desires (such anger, fear, confidence, envy, joy, love, hate, longing, jealousy, and pity).

This ability is both rational and irrational. It is irrational because even animals experience desires. However, it is also rational since humans have the distinct ability to have and control desires with the help of reasoning. The human ability to properly control these desires is called moral virtue. The third tier of the soul is the human or rational psyche this is the reasonable part of the soul, which is responsible for the human ability to contemplate, reason logically, and formulate scientific principles.

Animals do not possess this because it is the rational part of the soul that only humans have. The mastery of these abilities is called intellectual virtue. There are many similarities between Platos and Aristotles work considering Plato was once Aristotles teacher. However there are also many differences. Plato claims there are three virtues in a stable state: wisdom, courage, and moderation. Aristotle says there are only two virtues: intellectual and moral.

In Book II of Aristotles Nicomachean Ethics he uses the idea of the mean to define virtue. Therefore the idea of moderation or mean plays a key role in both Platos and Aristotles concept of virtues. Nevertheless, there is a contradiction that lies here, Aristotle thinks virtue is the only thing one can not have too much of. There is no such thing as moderation of virtue. The relationship between Plato and Aristotle comes up again with the discussion of soul or psyche. Aristotle divides the soul into two portions: rational and irrational, and continues to divide the irrational part. Plato divides the soul into three different parts: the appetitive, the honor loving, and the rational loving.

The only similarities here are that both philosophers divided the soul into different parts so that each can be examined. Plato and Aristotle were both great philosophers during their time and in the present. Both their works on Ethics have taught many students a great deal and will continue to do so throughout time. Bibliography Aristotle. Nicomachean Ethics. Hackett Publishing Company, Indianapolis/Cambridge, 1999.

Translated by Iwrin, Terence Plato. Republic. Hackett Publishing Company, Indianapolis/Cambridge, 1992. Translated by Grube, G.M.A. Revised by Reeve, C.D.C. www.encyclopida.com www.sparknotes.com Aristotle. Nicomachean Ethics.

Hackett Publishing Company, Indianapolis/Cambridge, 1999. Translated by Iwrin, Terence Plato. Republic. Hackett Publishing Company, Indianapolis/Cambridge, 1992. Translated by Grube, G.M.A.

Revised by Reeve, C.D.C. www.encyclopida.com www.sparknotes.com Philosophy Essays.